March 21, 2023


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Train accident in Greece: at least 36 dead and dozens injured

Athens, Greece Rescue workers are desperately searching for survivors after a head-on collision between two trains in central Greece killed dozens and injured scores more.

At least 36 people were killed when a passenger train carrying more than 350 people collided with a freight train on Tuesday evening, just before midnight, in Tempe, central Greece, near the city of Larissa, the Greek fire service said.

She added that 66 people are receiving hospital treatment for their injuries, including six in intensive care units.

Greek Health Minister Thanos Pleveris said early Wednesday that the process of identifying the victims had also begun.

“As you understand, this is a terrifying operation for the parents and relatives who are here. We will help them as much as we can,” said Blevris, speaking outside the hospital in Larissa.

He said there were “some difficulties” with the identification process, but added that “the injured are in relatively good condition.”

Smoke rises from the derailed train cars.

“We just heard a bang…the car (the train) started to turn, before it ended up sideways when we managed to get out,” a passenger told Greek public broadcaster ERT.

Another passenger said, “Ten terrifying seconds went by with the fire, you couldn’t see so much smoke.”

The Greek fire service said recovery efforts were under way, with the focus on the first carriages of the passenger train. The death toll is expected to rise.

The passenger train was traveling from the capital, Athens, to Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, which is famous for its festivals and vibrant cultural life. The collision follows a nationwide carnival weekend that ended with a public holiday on Monday.

Rescue operations are still underway and the death toll is expected to rise.
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Pictures broadcast by Greece’s state-owned public broadcaster showed columns of thick smoke billowing from toppled vehicles and long lines of rescue vehicles next to them.

Meanwhile, rescue workers carrying torches searched the carriages for survivors while paramedics led the shocked passengers from the scene.

Pictures also showed the arrival of some surviving passengers in Thessaloniki.

Passengers who survived a train crash near the city of Larissa arrive in Thessaloniki, Greece, on March 1, 2023.

Greek fire service spokesman Vassilis Varthakogiannis He said earlier that 194 passengers were transported safely to Thessaloniki and 20 people were transported by bus to the city of Larissa.

Varthakogiannis added that at least 150 firefighters including special rescue units with 17 vehicles and 30 ambulances took part in the rescue operation.

“All movements of the firefighters working on the site are concentrated on the first three carriages of the train,” he said. “The crane vehicles create conditions for access to the interior of the carriages and for their complete examination.”

A passenger walking on the side of the road after the collision in the city of Larissa.

The Greek railway company, Hellenic Train, said in a press release that there was a “head-on collision between two trains: a freight train and an IC 62 train that had departed from Athens for Thessaloniki”.

Authorities said it was not yet clear what caused the collision.

Hellenic Train, the main Greek railway company, acquired Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane in 2017 and is now fully under Trenitalia’s control. The company operates both passenger and freight transportation. The main line on which daily transport links are provided is Athens-Thessaloniki.

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Condolences began pouring in from all over the world. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna wrote on Twitter: “Sad thoughts after the terrible train accident near Larissa in Greece… My heart goes out to the Greek people and I express my deepest condolences to the victims and their families.”

“My thoughts are with the people of Greece,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“All of Europe is in mourning with you. I also wish a speedy recovery to all those injured.”